RSPCA slams government egg decision

RSPCA general manager Peter West has condemned the government's decision to lift the ban on caged eggs in public hospitals, prisons and schools and believes Tasmania's caged egg market will be dead in five years.

A caged versus free-range egg debate reached all corners of the state yesterday and saw a number of animal and farming groups flap their wings over the move's potential impacts on local industry and animal welfare.

Mr West said the state was taking a "step backwards" as national standards look to phase out caged eggs by 2017.

"With one fell swoop of a bureaucrat's pen, we've wiped off the message we've been trying to create about caged eggs," Mr West said.

"Caged hens live in atrocious conditions. The RSPCA's main focus is on the welfare of animals and we think responsible farming is good, but irresponsible farming is bad. This is irresponsible."

Despite a potential market revival for caged eggs on the horizon, Mr West believes any return would be short lived.

"In five years caged eggs won't even be around anymore," he said.

"It will be like plastic bags. When it was first announced everyone thought the sky was falling, but we haven't even batted an eyelid."

While some have protested against the government's decision, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has sung its praises.

"In effect, that plan would have handed the Tasmanian egg market over to interstate suppliers because they could still have imported caged eggs here," TFGA chief executive Jan Davis said.

"The ban was to be on production not consumption."

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